The 2012 election is behind us. America has reelected President Obama to a second term, and the time has come for us to take a look at the next four years of America’s political life, and where the Democratic Party needs to go in 2016 and beyond.
And even though many of us are still exhausted from the long and difficult 2012 campaign, it is never too early to think ahead. We need to help President Obama have a successful second term, we need to maintain our Senate majority and regain the House, the state Governorships, and the state legislatures in 2014, and then we need to run a strong candidate for President in 2016, one who shares our progressive Democratic values and who will lead the Democratic Party into its next phase, who will continue the work of turning President Obama’s original platform of hope and change into meaningful legislation that will move this country forward.
Hillary Clinton is that candidate, and we need a serious draft movement to get her into the race.
I supported Obama in 2008 and I don’t regret doing so. Obama’s message of hope and change was the right one for the country at the time, and it was better than Hillary’s campaign of experience and strength. But there will be no Obama this time, no bold progressive visionary seeking to take the country in a different direction. Now, we are already on the right path; what we need is a leader who will continue the long march down that path.
Obama is a difficult act to follow. Presidents like him only come along once in a generation. The next Democratic nominee will not inspire us with powerful words and compel us into action by sheer force of personality the way Barack Obama did. 2016 will not be an election that packs tens of thousands into a stadium or on the streets of Berlin to hear a speech, and there’s a good chance that when the next President of the United States is inaugurated in 2017, there won’t be a million people watching on the National Mall. We need to get used to that.
Instead, the next Democratic President will need to be a workhorse, a warrior with the grit and tenacity to fight the Republicans and deliver the rest of President Obama’s agenda. If Obama was JFK, leading a nation with sweeping rhetoric and leadership, the next President must be like LBJ, and advance the types of legislation that will become the policy cornerstone of the new Democratic era. Legislation like comprehensive immigration reform, energy independence and climate change legislation, and rebuilding America’s infrastructure. We have already seen some of this major legislation in President Obama’s first term with health care reform and the stimulus, and we will doubtless see more in his second term, but given the current political climate, it is almost certain that President Obama will leave office without having achieved everything he wants to. It will depend on the next President to take up the cause.
Hillary Clinton is the right person to follow President Obama as the Democratic nominee.
Everything that made her an appealing candidate in 2008 still applies. She is still the candidate with experience, and she is still a strong leader. Her four years as President Obama’s Secretary of State have only enhanced her foreign policy credentials, and she has earned the respect of the major leaders of the world. She will be able to both fight the Republicans and work with them when necessary. She would make an excellent President.
Hillary Clinton could win. In 2008, she had the support of a huge portion of the Democratic base, including women, Hispanics, and labor unions. Without Obama as a primary contender, she could easily wrap up the rest, including African-Americans and youth. Many of these constituencies supported her before switching to Obama and always had tremendous respect and admiration for her. Hillary also appeals to independent voters, especially with her husband’s support, and she is an outstanding fundraiser.
Hillary lost the 2008 primary both because of the political climate of the time and because her campaign, frankly, was terrible. It lacked organization and discipline and was divided by internal squabbles. That won’t happen again. Many of the main people, like Penn and Solis Doyle, who sunk her 2008 campaign are gone and unlikely to return. Meanwhile, the political geniuses who ran both of Obama’s campaigns would be available to work on hers. We won’t see the same mistakes as in 2008, and Hillary would run the type of strong, successful campaign that helped Obama win.
In addition, Hillary would be able to generate the grassroots momentum necessary to win the election. This time around, there is no other Democrat who could garner the kind of excitement she could. Most Democrats still love Hillary and would eagerly turn out to make phone calls and knock on doors for her. Other possible candidates, like Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, and even Joe Biden wouldn’t be able to get that level of enthusiasm. Hillary Clinton would be the grassroots candidate of 2016, if we can get her there.
So we know that Hillary would make a great presidential candidate and a great President. Where do we go from here?
First, we need to do everything possible to continue the Democratic momentum in the 2014 elections. We need to hang on to our Senate majority in what is likely to be a difficult year, with several precarious red-state Dems up for reelection. Ideally, we also need to regain a majority in the House of Representatives. This is unlikely (the incumbent President’s party typically loses seats in the midterms), but it can be done, as the Republicans did in 2002. We also need to win big in the midterm gubernatorial and state legislative races, by defeating the Tea Party incumbents who were elected in 2010, many of whom have very low approval ratings and are extremely vulnerable.
Second, we must support President Obama’s agenda using existing Democratic activist networks, including DailyKos, the labor unions, and progressive advocacy groups such as MoveOn and Democracy for America. In addition, everyone who reads this diary should join TheAction.org to support President Obama’s plan to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2%.
Finally, we must start an active movement to draft Hillary Clinton to run for President in 2016. This may or may not actually influence Hillary to join the race, but it will build up momentum and support for her, if in fact she does run.
The election may have just happened, but there’s no time to waste. The time to take action is now. I have started a petition on change.org. Please sign to show your support for Hillary in 2016. We need to encourage Hillary in every possible way: use Facebook and Twitter, post diaries and post to your personal blog. This is the next step to moving our country forward.